UAE, March 2, 2015 – Under the patronage of H. H. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, H.E. Dr. Rashid Ahmed Bin Fahed, Minister of Environment and Water, opened today (Monday, March 2, 2015) the ‘Gulf Forum to Enhance Food Security and Support Small and Medium Scale Farmers’ at the Fairmont Bab Al Bahr Hotel in Abu Dhabi. Distinguished guests, including H.E. Mohamed Bin Obaid Al Mazrowei, Chairman of Arab Authority for Agricultural Investment and Development (AAAID), and Dr. Kanayo Nwanze, President, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), were also present during the opening ceremony.
The AAAID-organized event was held in partnership with IFAD and in cooperation with the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA) and the Food Security Center - Abu Dhabi (FSCAD). During the forum, the participating group of decision-makers and pioneers representing the region’s agricultural and food sectors discussed the latest developments in food security and small- and medium-sized agricultural investments in the Gulf and the rest of the Middle East.
The forum included four main sessions and a series of panel discussions, bringing together senior professionals and stakeholders from across the Arab World. The first session titled ‘Agriculture and Food Situation in the GCC’ was chaired by Rashid Mohamed Al Shariqi, ADFCA’s Director General. It addressed agricultural and food production issues, solutions to challenges, and ways to close the food gap through agricultural research investments. The second session on ‘Agricultural Investments across the Gulf Region’ was chaired by Mohammed Saif Al Suwaidi, Director General of Abu Dhabi Fund for Development, and specifically talked about the investments of the private sectors from the UAE and Saudi Arabia across the region. The session also highlighted opportunities and challenges in terms of global agricultural investment projects, with a particular focus on IFAD’s experience in establishing partnerships among public and private sectors and producers.
Dr. Asmahan Al Wafi, Director General of the International Center for Saline Agriculture, chaired the third session titled ‘The Difficulties Facing Agriculture in the Gulf Region.’ Discussions centered on the latest equipment and modern methods for irrigation and soil treatment as well as the development of appropriate agricultural products suitable for the Gulf’s climate. In addition, the session emphasized the importance of applying nanotechnology in the food and agricultural sectors. The fourth and last session on ‘Investment Opportunities in the Agricultural and Food Field’ was chaired by Khalifa Ahmed Al Ali, FSCAD’s Managing Director. Participants reviewed IFAD’s experience and expertise in promoting food security in the Near East, North Africa, Eastern Europe and Central Asia regions via the development of the agricultural production chain.
H.E. Al-Mazrowei, said: “We are overwhelmed by the good turnout at the Gulf Forum. Regional and global decision-makers and professionals came to the event to share their experiences and proven expertise in order to create sustainable solutions to bridge the food gap in the region and advance the sector’s growth and development. The discussions particularly focused on small- and medium- scale farmers as they make up the largest segment of agricultural production in the Arab World. We look forward to implementing the attendees’ recommendations in hopes to bolster efforts to achieve sustainable agricultural and food production in the region, strengthen coordination and unity among government agencies and private institutions, and contribute effectively to the Gulf’s and the rest of Arab World’s sustainable economic development.”
In his speech delivered during the event, Dr. Kanayo Nwanze, President of IFAD, said: “The Gulf Forum is essential for enhancing our collaboration and effectiveness providing a platform for us to share ideas, learn from each other and explore new avenues for rural development. Working for 40 years, the International Fund of Agricultural Development is the only institution in existence that combines an international financing institution’s tough head for business with a United Nations agency's soft heart for people. IFAD acts as a trusted broker mobilizing further investment from donors, the private sector and other partners, that support sustainable and inclusive development.”
The Gulf Forum concluded with a series of bilateral business meetings among stakeholders who reviewed various agricultural and food investment opportunities. The attendees also discussed ways to take advantage of the agricultural sector’s current potentials and future prospects based on a unified vision of attaining regional food security.
Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, along with other OPEC members, were among the first founding Member States to ratify the Agreement Establishing IFAD in 1977.
The Arab Authority for Agricultural Investment and Development is one of the joint Arab financial institutions established to help achieve food security in the Arab region through agricultural investments, development of natural resources and agricultural and human potentials, and deployment of modern agricultural techniques in the Arab World. For over 37 years, the Authority has been working on promoting scientific research, technological developments, and agricultural investments as well as applying the concepts of extended field research and leading farms before the commercial production stage. The AAAID oversees research stations in multiple locations to meet the needs of relevant technical projects.